by Jari Love
If you want to add seven years to your lifespan, set aside 20 to 25 minutes for a daily walk. This simple habit, which can also arguably be one of the most enjoyable parts of your day, has been found to trigger an anti-aging process and even help repair old DNA.
The research, presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress, followed 69 people between the ages of 30 and 60. Those who engaged in daily moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk or jog, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and strength training experienced anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.1
The researchers recommended a 20-minute daily walk to reap these benefits, but while I agree a daily walk is a phenomenal health tool, I don’t view it as a form of exercise.
It’s an essential movement that we all require – and you likely need more than 20 minutes of it a day in addition to a regular exercise program. As noted by Katy Bowman, a scientist and author of the book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.
As mentioned, walking may help to slow down the aging process, and it works no matter what age you get started. Study author Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St. George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, told The Independent.
“We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our nineties. Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an antidepressant, it improves cognitive function, and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”
Part of what makes walking so beneficial is that when you’re walking you can’t be sitting. Sitting for more than eight hours a day is associated with a 90 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, along with increased risks of heart disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.
The average American actually spends nine to 10 hours of their day sitting, and certain occupations, such as telecommunications employees, spend an average of 12 hours sitting each day.
For many years, exercise was promoted as the solution to this largely sedentary lifestyle, but research suggests it can’t counteract the effects of too much sitting. The more you move around and get up out of your chair, the better, and walking is part of this.
Research even shows getting up and walking around for two minutes out of every hour can increase your lifespan by 33 percent, compared to those who do not. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), the average person only walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day, but aiming for 10,000 steps is a better goal.
One study found that walking for two miles a day or more can cut your chances of hospitalization from a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by about half.
Another study found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for at least an hour or two could cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how brisk the pace was.
Taking a three-hour long walk each day slashed the risk by two-thirds. Walking has additional benefits as well, including to your mood. Walking triggers your body to release natural pain-killing endorphins, and the more steps people take during a day, the better their mood tends to be.
Walking is even known to improve sleep, support your joint health, improve circulation, and reduce the incidence of disability in those over 65. Research has also shown that walking 30 minutes a day may:
– Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
– Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
– Improve blood lipid profile
– Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
– Enhance mental well being
– Reduce your risk of osteoporosis
– Reduce your risk of breast and colon cancer
– Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes
Jari Love – original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.